Lastly, he has a mischievous, witty, slyly humourous, bantering personality illustrated by his nickname, Matteesie. (In my reviews of Stan Jones books set in northwest
I discuss the same playful indigenous communication.) Alaska
As we walked our breath made little frosty clouds that blew between us as we walked. There wasn’t much to say.
“Minus thirty-five, according to the radio,” I said.
“Yeah, but not a bad morning. No wind.”
Matteesie is getting ready to leave
for an Arctic Institute Conference in
in the U.S.S.R. when he is directed by the RCMP Commissioner to investigate a
plane that has gone missing in the area of Leningrad . The son of Fort
Finance Minister happened to be the pilot. Adding to the mix his passengers are
suspected drug dealers. Canada
On Matteesie’s flight to
a stretcher is loaded on the
plane. A Northwest Territories Metis leader, Morton Cavendish, has had a stroke
and is being airlifted for treatment in Fort
Norman . Edmonton
As Matteesie prepares to leave the plane by the rear exit a man walks up the exit steps, moves up to the unconscious man and fires 3 shots into Cavendish’s head. The shooter, before Matteesie can reach him, rushes out of the plane and jumps on an idling snowmobile and disappears into the bush next to the runway.
Frustrated and mad at both being unable to prevent the murder and pursue the killer Matteesie is determined to find the murderer.
Cavendish’s son, William, has disappeared and Matteesie starts searching for him in
While few are willing to talk Matteesie eventually gets some information from
George “No Legs” Manicoche, a trapper who had his legs amputated, He had gotten
drunk and passed out in the snow and his legs were badly frozen. Fort Norman
While Matteesie uses modern transportation most of the time he and No Legs join a white teacher, Edie McDonald, on a dogsled search into the wilderness that harkens back to an earlier era of the North. I will discuss their trip in my next post on Thursday.
Matteesie knows the resolution of the case will be found in the bush. He is glad to spend time outdoors. His status as an Inspector and then working with the Federal Government has kept him indoors. Riding a snowmobile he reflects:
As I bumped along, a feeling of peace gradually came over me. Much of my life, both before I signed on as a special and after, I’d spent time out in the bush or the tundra with snow machines or dog teams. On long trips I might have an objective many days away but the important thing was always just to get through the next few hours before night and food and sleep. On such a trip the mind roams free. I hadn’t felt this good for a long time, leaving behind conferences, memos, reports, the trying to convince others this policy was good and that bad, being polite with deputy ministers and deferential with the political ministers who came and went like migrating geese.
If you are ready to leave the city and head into the wilderness of northern
search out a copy of Murder in a Cold
Climate. It is worth the effort. While Young may have spent most of his
life writing about sports he has crafted a good mystery. The characters are
true northerners. The geography and weather of the North play an important role as they do in
real life. The North is integral to the plot. I expect readers will long
remember Matteesie. I longed to join Matteesie on a northern journey. (Nov.
If you like mysteries set in the Arctic I highly recommend M.G. McGrath's 'White Heat'.ReplyDelete
Bill - Oh, this sounds like a really well-written book that truly depicts that setting. And I'm already finding the character of Matteesie interesting. Thanks for this recommendation.ReplyDelete
Dr. Evangelicus: Thank you for the recommendation.ReplyDelete
Margot: Thanks for the comment. I hope you get a chance to read the book.ReplyDelete
Have you read The Shaman's Knife by Scott Young? It's the second mystery that he wrote also starring Matteesie. (Incidentally I just saw Scott's son, Neil, in concert last night. Those Young men age well.)ReplyDelete
gypsymom: I was aware of the book but have not read it. I am going to look around for a copy.ReplyDelete